Bigots on the ballot: California’s Prop. 8
Rebecca Watson (THE Skepchick) posted a link to this video. It’s a response by members of the Skeptic’s Guide to the Universe forum community to the bigot ballot initiative now in California, Proposition 8, which would illegalize gay marriage. Basically, Prop. 8’s supporters want to take away the freedom to marry – a freedom all adult Californians now enjoy – from people the bigots hate.
Gay marriage is currently legal in California, so the state’s bigots have organized a political putch to codify their self-loathing into law. Under Proposition 8, marriage between people whose genitals differ would remain legal… for now… but lifelong pair-bonded human beings whose reproductive architectures are similar would be barred from the status of marriage, including all marriage’s array of statues and precedents that govern allocation of shared personal wealth and assignment of power of attorney, alongside custodial rights pertaining to offspring.
It is true that some superstitious cults have irrational phobias regarding homosexual relationships, enforced primarily from mindless and slavish adherence to behavioral norms established among a particular tribe of goat-herders from Asia Minor, prior to their mastery of iron. Today, bigots would seriously have us base national public policy upon such irrelevant trivia. The ancient mythological taboos of Judeans are of no more modern social relevance than the fervent beliefs of ancient Hittites, Assyrians, Gauls, or Beaker People.
The only question pertinent to gay marriage is whether there is any objective reason, whatsoever, for not extending the courtesy of the status “married” to gay people. I can find none. Legal marriage and ritual marriage are two very different things. Legal marriage conveys a constellation of rights and obligations that are enforcable in a court of law. Ritual marriage, as is often performed in a church or temple, conveys no such rights. If you break a purely religious rule, your fellow travelers might shun you, but in the civilized world no one will take you to jail. It’s pretend rules, in church. Some churches and temples think people who have gay sex are icky, and if they want to cast out such perceived heresies from their little pretend worlds, that’s their business.
But please keep such stupidity out of the Constitution. Legal marriage is simply the recognition that humans tend to pair bond. It’s in our nature. A large fraction of humans establish lifelong bonding partnerships with another person, whom they usually also prize as a sexual partner. From that point on you get a lot of variations. Which of those variations is “right” or “wrong”, assuming everyone involved is willing, is not a meaningful question. Pair bonds share resources and establish a stable social construct. The details of whether a couple has 0 children or 20, has sex a lot or not at all, or whether the wife prefers to be on top or both partners are male, have precisely zero value as criteria for whether a functional marriage exists. Only the partners in a marriage can make that decision. The opinions of churches are of no more importance to this issue than the opinions of cake bakers or lace manufacturers.
The conservatives will lose this war, as they lost their war for slavery, their war against modern medicine, their war against literacy, their war against a round Earth, their war against sacrificing goats to the Sun, and their ongoing war to micromanage every conceivable aspect of your moment-to-moment experience as a human being. The bigots are terrified now that the rights of other people start to draw perilously close with their own. They will lose, the only question is how much human suffering they’re willing to create before they go down… how much spite and venom can they muster, before the cultural gangrene of bigotry is finally dead.